Letter 32

Synopsis of Letter 32

Six months later, Harpo has changed a great deal. He has decided to convert his house into a juke-joint as a source of income and has persuaded his friend Swain to play jazz on his guitar (also called a ‘box’) so that customers can dance and be entertained.

Harpo tells Celie that he has learned many things about himself since Sofia left him. He has been told, by someone not named in this episode, that he is ‘cute’ and also that he is capable of making money because he is also ‘smart’. When Celie asks what Sofia thinks about Harpo’s plans, he states that Sofia will not come back and refuses to answer her when she asks the reason why.

Commentary on Letter 32

Harpo has now ceased to be an object of pity because he has gained confidence, obviously because of the new friend whose identity is not revealed here. His decision to convert his house into a juke-joint shows that his previous timidity has now been replaced by a stronger belief in his own ability and he is full of plans for the future.

Investigating Letter 32

  • Do some research into juke-joints. Why were they regarded as disreputable places?
  • What does Harpo's decision to build the juke-joint tell us about the way he has changed? (Add to your character notes on Harpo.)
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